Nic Wright

BBC One Comedy Playhouse pilots revealed

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The BBC has announced details of three brand-new 30-minute specials for the Comedy Playhouse season on BBC One.

Hospital People, Broken Biscuits and Stop/Start will all be vying for a full series when they air later this year.

Before being revived last year, the Comedy Playhouse strand ran from 1961 to 1975. During that time, it spawned series spin-offs including Steptoe & Son, Are You Being Served? and Last Of The Summer Wine.

Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “The rich legacy of the Comedy Playhouse strand is indicative of the BBC’s commitment to back fresh and original ideas in a mainstream space. Ultimately, the audience decide on what they want to see more of, and these three very distinctive shows have great talents at the heart of them. Go easy, they’re like a new next door neighbour – you can learn to love them in time.”

Hospital People is a mockumentary set within the fictional Brimlington General Hospital. Comedian Tom Binns plays multiple characters, including deluded radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury, ambitious hospital manager Susan Mitchell, spiritualist porter Ian D Montfort, overenthusiastic priest Father Kenny and serial hypochondriac patient Terry Boyle.

Hospital People also stars Harki Bhambra, Liz Kingsman, Mandeep Dhillon, Aidey Pugh and Maggie McCarthy. It is co-written by Matt Morgan and Tom Binns.
Executive Producer, Ash Atalla, says: “The words ‘hospital’ and ‘funny’ are rarely seen together, but for 30 minutes at least we hope to change that. Roughcut are delighted to be working under the spotlight of BBC One, the biggest comedy stage of them all.”

Hospital People is executive produced by Ash Atalla and produced by John Petrie for Roughcut Television.

Craig Cash’s Broken Biscuits follows five disparate groups of people, friends, partners and parents. There’s Milton and Pearl and Brenda and Roger, who take great pride in running their B&B, teenager Raz who dreams of independence from his mum, and her partner, ‘Sid the Suitcase’. Lastly, Martin who is looking for love while caring for his disabled brother Tom.

Broken Biscuits is brought to life by a stellar cast including Alun Armstrong, Alison Steadman, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole, Warren Brown and Gemma Whelan. It is co-written by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey.

Executive Producer, Kristian Smith, says: “Broken Biscuits is a beautifully observed piece from Craig Cash and Phil Mealey; the stellar cast bring to life these wonderfully amusing characters in a clever interweaving narrative.”

Broken Biscuits is directed by Craig Cash and produced by Gill Isles for Jellylegs Productions.

Finally, Stop/Start is a studio sitcom about three marriages in various states of disrepair, written by and starring Jack Docherty. When life gets tricky in these relationships, the characters are able to stop the action, explain themselves directly to the audience and start it all up again. Rob and Cathy have been married for ages and it shows. Evan and Fiona’s marriage is one big, noisy argument. David and Georgy have just moved in next door to Rob and Cathy, putting the cat amongst the pigeons.

Stop/Start stars Jack Docherty, Kerry Godliman, Nigel Havers, Laura Aikman, John Thomson and Sarah Hadland.

Executive Producer, Steven Canny, says: “Stop/Start is a big, bold, funny show with an outstanding cast, and it develops a genuinely unique relationship with the audience both in the studio and at home. These are superbly honest scripts with a ton of great jokes. Jack Docherty is, officially, a very funny man and the audience will instantly recognise the emotional highs and lows he’s writing about.”

Stop/Start is a BBC In-house comedy production. It is directed by Ben Kellett, produced by Rosemary McGowan and executive produced by Steven Canny.